Natural gas detectors — Are they worth it?
Natural gas detectors can alert you and your family of odorless and dangerous leaks.
Natural gas detectors may not be as common on the list of must haves for the home such as a smoke detector or fire extinguisher, but these devices are worth serious consideration and can detect potentially serious situations.
Public utilities add a chemical to give the odorless, colorless natural gas a "rotten egg" smell. This smell helps identify everything from a minor, quick-fix problem such as an appliance's pilot light going out to a serious issue such as a crack in the line caused by a natural disaster.
If you smell gas, keep you and your family safe by exiting the home and calling your local gas company/public utility. As you leave, avoid doing anything that may create a spark including turning on or off lights.
Gas leaks may not be as common as house fires, but leaks can result in a situation as severe as an explosion.
Discovering a natural gas leak is not always guaranteed as sometimes the smell can fade off. Also, a leak is difficult to detect by someone with a lack of or reduced sense of smell.
Types of natural gas detectors
The most common types of natural gas detectors for residential use are similar in size and cost to carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.
Some manufacturers of carbon monoxide detectors offer combination or 3-in-1 detectors to alert when carbon monoxide or an explosive gas such as natural gas or propane is detected. Many of the home natural gas detectors or explosive gas detectors will require being plugged into an electrical outlet and will have a battery back-up.
There are also gas detectors designed for recreational vehicles to alert in case of a propane leak as well as more expensive hand-held models typically used for trying to track down where the leak is.
When buying a natural gas leak detector, be sure to read the packaging to make sure it fits your needs for residential use.
Where to put natural gas detectors
Install your natural gas detectors in locations close to sources of natural gas. This includes, placing them in any room with windows or a gas appliance such as your kitchen and your basement.
When adding to a room with windows, be sure to position natural gas detectors higher than all doors and windows. Positioning detectors away from windows is best since the fresh air coming in could deter and interfere with accurate readings on the device.
Some manufacturers recommend placing the detectors 6 inches away from the ceiling and 10 feet away from the gas appliance. Review the placement recommendations from the manufacturer of the natural gas detector that you purchase.
What to do if a natural gas detector goes off
If your gas detector ever goes off, don't panic. Leave the home and contact your public utility.
Should your property be impacted by a natural disaster such as a tornado, earthquake, hurricane or flood, natural gas detectors can alert you and your family to possible issues. In some cases or emergencies, it may be necessary to shut off some utilities.
Natural gas detector maintenance
Much like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, the home natural gas detector needs to be tested regularly and the batteries — even if used as a back-up system to a plug-in detector — need to be changed. And most natural gas detectors for the home have a useful life of about 5 years. Make note of your natural gas detector's expiration date.
In the event of damage to your home, be sure to report it to your insurance company. A home inventory is an excellent way to help make home insurance and renters insurance coverage decisions and expedite the insurance claims process for damage or loss.